The search for a kidnapped Merced County family came to a tragic end on Wednesday when all four were found dead and left in an orchard north of Dos Palos, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
The discovery was made around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday by a farmworker. Upon arrival deputies located the bodies of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, her father Jasdeep Singh, 36, and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39. The family of four had not been seen since Monday.
The suspected killer, Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, had been in the sheriff’s office custody since Tuesday. On Thursday he was booked into the Merced County Jail for four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping.
As the investigation continued, detectives arrested Salgado’s brother, Alberto Salgado on Friday for criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence.
The discovery of the kidnapping began around 11:30 a.m. Monday when Cal Fire was dispatched to Buhach and Oakdale roads in Winton for a report of a 2020 Dodge Ram truck that had been set on fire. The California Highway Patrol also responded to the scene for the investigation and tried to make contact with the vehicle’s registered owner — Amandeep Singh. The CHP’s attempts were unsuccessful and at 12:35 p.m. Monday they requested the Merced Police Department go to Amandeep Singh’s residence.
When Merced Police Department arrived at the residence, they were not able to make contact with Amandeep Singh however, they were able to reach another family member. The family member attempted to contact the three adults but were unable to reach them, prompting the family to report all four as missing.
At 1:04 p.m. Monday the sheriff’s office responded to a business on South Highway 59 and learned that the three adults and the baby had been kidnapped at gunpoint by an individual now believed to be Jesus Salgado.
On Tuesday morning sheriff’s investigators learned that an ATM card belonging to one of the victims had been used as a bank in Atwater. Detectives identified the suspect as Jesus Salgado, but before they made contact with him, he attempted to end his life.
He was taken into custody and was given medical attention.
Prior to the discovery of the bodies, the sheriff’s office released surveillance video of the kidnapping. The video shows both Singh men led out of the business at gunpoint with their arms zip tied and. Minutes later Kaur comes out holding the baby.
The Singh brothers immigrated to America 18 years ago and worked hard to “achieve safety, security, and community for themselves and their families. Aman and Jasdeep were the primary bread earners for the family, supported their elderly parents, and lived under one roof,” the family stated in the GoFundMe account.
The four are survived by Aroohi’s grandparents, Randhir Singh and Kirpal Kaur, Amandeep’s wife, Jaspreet Kaur (Jass) their children Ekam, 6, and Seerat, 9.
The money raised from the GoFundMe account, which is the only official one for the family, will go toward the upbringing and education of Ekam and Seerat and helping Jass, Randhir and Kirpal.
In the post, the family remembers Aroohi as a child that “loved to run around the house in her walker and was a joyous child. She loved being held in her grandparent's, aunt's, and uncle’s arms; her eyes were always full of joy. She meant the world to her little cousins Ekam and Seerat.”
Jasdeep and Jasleen had been married for three years and reunited two years ago after her immigration was finalized.
“In keeping with his name, Aman (meaning peace) was calm, positive, charitable, and always ready to help others, the post recalled. “Aman was the rock of his family, a great dad who always made time to cuddle his son Ekam, read with his daughter Seerat, and treasure their many art projects and other accomplishments. Aman was loved and admired by his wife, Jass. Aman routinely donated food to the local food bank and found comfort in his faith, never missing Sunday service in the temple. He was a caring elder brother and a role model to his cousins.”
A candlelight vigil will be held at Bob Hope Square in Merced starting at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The GoFundMe account link is https://www.gofundme.com/f/justice-for-the-dheri-family?utm_campaign=p_cf%20share-flow-1&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&fbclid=IwAR2Rvh41vG-7RAv4xn-68ryIHzbb1NydmK6eeeQ95IgvMIsk8YsuOkXNuY0.